judgment’s shadow

IMG_0647a couple years ago i went to training about shame. my instructor, a brilliant man, instructed us to listen to that voice in our head that berates, name-calls, hates. he said, “try replacing the ‘i’ in the statement with ‘you.'” so, instead of saying, “i’m such an idiot” i would then say to myself “you’re such an idiot.” this voice, he said, is The Judge.

when i did this exercise, what happened was unexpected. i could feel the sadness underneath The Judge’s cruel words. i could connect to that soft space inside that’s just so sweetly sad. it wasn’t a sadness about what The Judge was saying, it was the deeper sadness that The Judge was working to conceal. after all, if i’m focused on that voice i’m not tapping into the current of sadness running within me.

this is how The Judge works. or The Critic. whatever you want to name it, it’s job in your psyche is to protect. when i’m connected to the sadness, i’m vulnerable. when i’m connected to the sadness, life slows down and i feel the repressed grief from unprocessed experiences and transitions, the grief of a lifetime, the grief of being human. when we can name The Judge for what it is, we become something else. we’re no longer embodying this toxic energy; no, we’re recognizing it as the character that it is.

when we can connect to this place of genuine sadness, there’s a sweetness to it, like i mentioned earlier. i think it’s because it neighbors love, and kindness, and compassion. it’s the home of true feeling, and when we can visit with sadness we’re only a step away from joy, and excitement, and the whole clan of feelings. it’s not the sadness about, but the sadness because. because one day everyone and everything i love will be gone. because one day we’ll have to say goodbye. because this day (hour, minute, second) is over, and i’ll never get it back.

we cling to what inevitably will slip through our fingers. and yet clenching a fistful of sand only squeezes it out faster. when we can open and hold, rest with things as they are while knowing one day the winds of time will blow it all away, will we get to enjoy it all that much more. The Judge would rather keep this knowledge a secret, though, hence its harsh ways and attempts to divert our attention. but The Judge has its own shadow, the disowned part that lies underground, and it’s sadness. the sweet, sweet, sadness that’s deserving of some light.

all it takes

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imagine yourself here. what do you see? smell? hear? this is your space of solitude. your space surrounded by all that one can find in nature. you’ve come to contemplate…what? find something to connect to, to love. these waters are you, the clouds adrift across the sky are your clouds. this is you, you are this.

within you lies the beauty of a thousand sunsets. within you lies the stillness of a million lakes on a windless day. within you lies the truth – that you are beautiful beyond words. even your ugliest parts are worthy here. because they’re just parts; not the you you.

breaking the surface of the water we find the inner, unseen depths. the stories gone untold, the ones working so hard to bob to the surface. again and again we push it down. that’s okay. one day we’ll part the waters and lift the story, wet from years of submersion. we’ll place that story on a blanket, wrap it in our arms, pour love and warmth onto and into it, and then listen. maybe it’s only a few short words that have been longing for voice; maybe it’s an epic tale that wraps and winds its way around us. either way, it’s our story. it’s us. and it needs our voice. it needs our attention. it needs our love.

and when you look up across the stillness of the water, you’re different. you know now that you can never go back. and so you paddle on, keeping your story held tight, giving it all the space it needs to just be. it can rest now, and, having listened without judgment and with compassion, so can you. that’s all it takes.

the beauty of becoming

IMG_0060as we journey toward reconnecting with ourselves at the deepest levels, we must go through a process of becoming. this becoming doesn’t happen overnight, for it’s a process. one in which there is no prescribed timeline, no map, no how-to manual. i felt this process working itself on me the other day, an opening of a moment in which i could feel the layers peeling back, see the painful years for what they’ve been, and allow all that is to permeate. it was a beautiful moment, one in which i knew i wanted to write about, and yet so fleeting it’s hard to put a name to it, difficult to translate in a way that i hope makes sense. it’s what i wish for everyone, always. to be able to bloom.

the beauty of becoming wouldn’t be the same without what we could say is the ugliness of despair, resistance, and fear. i only use the word “ugly” to make a point that there is duality in all things. light/shadow, love/hate, beauty/ugliness. but, when we can set aside our judgment that thrives on labeling anything, we can sit with both sides of the coin and know they are both equally valuable ingredients necessary for the creation of love.

when i was in the throes of my darkest dark night to date, i was soaked in hatred and resistance. covered in it. couldn’t get away from it. which is probably why it hung around for so long – i was doing anything i could think of to avoid being with it. this is why i say that these darker feelings are so crucial. i’ve learned to believe that they’re indicators of growth, of monumental shifts in thinking and ways of being, a sign that the foundation is trembling, making way for something greater to emerge from deep within.

it’s the bulb pushing through the frozen ground, poking its little green head through the dirt to peek around at the remaining snow mounds. it’s time. it’s not waiting until the perfect conditions, and it’s not going faster than it can go. no. and the bulb next to it? while it may be making headway, it still has a ways to go before it reaches daylight. but daylight it will find. in it’s own time.

this is also true for us when we embark on any healing journey: where there is resistance there is growth. yes, resistance is fear. but there wouldn’t be resistance if there was nothing to be afraid of: new territory; leaving familiar ground (physically and/or emotionally); and especially stepping into your own power, pushing through your own frozen ground to find the light of day. so, when resistance is rearing up and working to knock you down, let’s imagine for a teeny second that it’s the coach pushing you to fight harder, to push through the discomfort and connect to the place of raw emotion, of pure presence. it’s working to help you grow stronger. let’s just pretend it really does want you to be all that you can be, despite how convincing it is otherwise.

when i speak of resistance, it may seem i’m saying that the work is to do more despite feeling resistant. the work may be to do less. if resistance likes to make you feel bad for resting, then that’s the work – to rest. it really comes down to tapping into what you’re needing and then pushing through that voice to make it happen.